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Music of the Renaissance Era

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Courtney Johnson

on 29 October 2015

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Transcript of Music of the Renaissance Era

Renaissance Era
Historical background
•Humanism is the main theme running through this period.
•Artists more interested in realism (nude human body, no longer an object of shame as in Middle Ages.)
•Human form was revealed as a thing of beauty
•Art was appreciated for its own sake
•Education became a status symbol, people hired scholars to teach their children.
•Printing books from movable type was perfected by Johann Guttenberg (1473) (widened the circulation of music)
•What is the #1 printed book?
•Introduction of gunpowder brought to an end the age of knighthood.
•In keeping with the ideal of the “universal” man, every educated person was expected to be trained in music.
Historical background continued
•Faults and hypocrisies within the Catholic Church became increasingly apparent and led to the Protestant reformation
•Council of Trent worked to formulate and pass measures aimed at purging the church of abuses and laxities. A number of complaints about the music including: [The Mass was profaned when based on secular cantus firmi or chansons; complicated polyphony made it impossible to understand the words; words weren’t pronounced correctly; musicians were charged with inappropriate use of instruments, carelessness, and an irreverent attitude.]
•Martin Luther believed that church music should include some songs sung in the vernacular, so he introduced the chorale.
Music Overview
•Musicians continued to work in churches, courts and towns.
•Music activity shifted to the courts where royalty competed for the finest composers.
•Famous people of the time: Shakespeare (music was an integral pat of his plays)—Explorers: Columbus, Vasco da Gama & Magellan; da Vinci—painter, sculptor, architect, engineer, scientist & musician; Raphael—painter (considered one of the greatest of all time) and Martin Luther (led the Protestant Reformation).
•Church music was still very important, but now composers worked at the courts for the wealthy rulers and composed non-religious music as well.
Music Overview Continued
•Composers sought credit for their work and enjoyed high status and pay.
•Greatest music of the period was written for voices and vocal music was more important than instrumental music and more complicated than ever.
•Flemish (Netherlands, Belgium, Northern France) composers regarded highly and held important positions.
•Italy-leading music center in the 16th century.
•Humanistic language influenced vocal music in a new way—a close relationship was created between words and music.
•Composers wrote music to enhance the emotion and meaning of the text.
•Composers used word painting—musical representation of specific poetic images.
•Courts employed musicians—10-60 (singers & instrumentalists.)
•Nobility brought their musicians along when traveling from court to court.
•Rulers of England were patrons of musicians. King Henry VIII was a good composer and musician. Wrote church music, songs, and music for dances.
Music Characteristics
•Mainly polyphonic-imitation among the voices is common.
•Bass register used for the first time expanding the pitch range to more than 4 octaves.
•Choral music did not need instrumental accompaniment –”golden age” of unaccompanied—a cappella—choral music.

•Flowing as opposed to sharply defined beat.

•Melodic line had great independence. Easy to sing.
Sacred Vocal Forms
Renaissance Motet
•Polyphonic choral work.
•Set to a sacred Latin text other than the ordinary of the mass.

Renaissance Mass
•Polyphonic choral composition made up of five sections: Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei.
Josquin Desprez (1450-1521)
•Master of Renaissance music
•Considered by contemporary musicians to be the greatest composer of this period.
•He achieved consummate mastery of canonic devices.
•Compositions include: masses, motets and secular vocal pieces.
#1 - Ave Maria…Virgo Serena
Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina
•Devoted himself to music for the Catholic Church in Rome.
•One of the foremost composers of his age; organists and choirmaster.
•Most well known composer before Bach, and has been called “the Prince of Music” and his works the “absolute perfection” of church style.
•His style incarnates the pure a cappella ideal of vocal polyphony. Master of the Mass.
•His Kyrie (from the Pope Marcellus Mass) is his most famous mass.
•Compositions include: 104 masses and 450 other sacred works.
#2 - Kyrie from Pope Marcellus Mass
Secular Music
•Secular vocal music became more popular
•Music was set to poems in various languages
•Combines homophonic and polyphonic textures
•Development of music printing helped spread secular music-thousands of song collections became available.
•Madrigal –an important kind of secular vocal music which was a piece for several solo voices set to a short poem, usually about love.
•A madrigal, like a motet, combines homophonic and polyphonic textures—but uses word painting and unusual harmonies more often.
•Originated in Italy around 1520.
Composers of English Madrigals
•Thomas Weelkes (1573-1623)
•One of the finest English madrigalists.
•Was an organist and church composer
•Thomas Morley (1557-1602) Earliest and most prolific leading figure. Refrains often sung to the syllables fa-la so sometimes the pieces were called fa-las.
Instrumental Music
•Subordinate to vocal music. Although it appears that there was an increase in instrumental music after 1450—just more of it was being written down. Manuscripts and prints have only preserved a small portion and approximate—due to the elaborated performances with improvised embellishments.
•Development of music printing help spread secular music.
•Popular Instruments: Recorder, shawm, harpsichord, organ, lute.
•Instrumentalists accompanied voices or played music intended for singing—but mostly for dancing.
•During 16th C. more music was written specifically for instruments.
•Cultivated people were expected to be skilled in dance (pavane, duple meter) and (galliard, triple meter) Dances were commonly grouped in pairs or threes (and precursors of the later dance suites). A favorite combination was a slow dance in duple meter and a fast dance in triple meter, hence this pair—a favorite in 16th century France. A favorite pair in Italy was the passamezzo and saltarello.
•Lute: most popular household solo instrument. (Tablature, a special kind of notation developed which did not show the pitch of each sound, but the fret where the finger stopped on the string to produce the sound).
•Viols: bowed instruments, neck was fretted, six strings tuned a fourth apart with a major third in the middle—with a more delicate tone then our present day violins.
•Recorders, Shawms (double-reed forerunners of the oboe)
•Capped-reeds: krummhorn, kortholt, and rauschfeife
•Transverse flutes, cornetts (made of wood or ivory) with cup-shaped mouthpiece; trumpets; and sackbuts (ancestors of the modern trombone). Most of the winds were softer in tone than our modern instruments.
•Organ: By 1500 the large church organ was similar in essentials to the instrument we know today—except for the pedal keyboard.
•Medieval Portative organ was out of style, but small positive organs (without pedals) had reed pipes.

Clavichord: metal tangent struck the string and remained in contact with it—soft tone, and performer could control the volume and achieve a vibrato—within limits. Solo Instrument suitable for small rooms.

Harpsichord types (virginal, spinet, etc) used a quill to pluck the strings—bigger sound than the clavichord, but no shading by applying pressure. Suitable for solo and ensemble playing in moderate sized rooms.
A complete set of viols or recorders consisting of 4-7 instruments was called a consort.
Portative Organ
New Vocal form for Baroque Era
•The Madrigal, so characteristic f the Renaissance, paved the way for one of the most innovative and influential forms of Western music

•Tragedies and Comedies from the theatre of the Renaissance that were imitated or inspired by the Greek examples, sometimes incorporated choruses that were sung. Sometimes between acts of a comedy or tragedy, intermedi or intermezzi—pastoral allegorical or mythological interludes—occupied the stage. For weddings these intermedi became spectacular and elaborate musical productions.

•Madrigal cycles (this was a far reaching effort to adapt the madrigal to dramatic purposes) represented a series of scenes or moods or that wove a simple comic plot in dialogue. Contrasting groups of voices and short solos set off the characters. This genre was short-lived.
Transition into the Baroque
•The scenes and subjects in the late sixteenth century madrigals, intermedi, and madrigal comedies foreshadowed the pastoral setting of the early operas.
•The pastoral was a favorite literary genre of the Renaissance became the prominent form of Italian verse composition.
•Pastorals were poems about shepherds or similar rural subjects, loosely dramatic and recounted leisurely tales of idyllic character. The genre demanded the poet’s skill in conveying the atmosphere of a fairy tale, and in this imaginary world the poet created, music seemed not only the natural mode of speech but the missing link to the poets’ visions and longings.
Pastoral poetry was at once the last stage of the madrigal and the first stage of the opera libretto.
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